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Smoothing the Road: How to Select A Family Walking Adventure
Smoothing the Road: How to Select A Family Walking Adventure

Zion National Park, Utah


Photo by Classic Journeys

By Barbara Sallay for Classic Journeys

Picture the scenario when you invite your kids to go for a walk. Like many parents, you might find yourself egging on the dawdler, admonishing the speed demon to slow down and wait up, or placating the one who'd rather be home playing video games.

Now picture those same youngsters in an altogether different setting: clambering over the ruins of a 15th century Irish castle… hiking between the towering walls of a slot gorge in Zion National Park… navigating a Costa Rican nature trail that leads to a roaring waterfall… or sharing the road with friendly llamas high in the mountains of Peru. Clearly, a walking adventure that provides both a breathtaking change of scene and a total change of pace can do wonders for family togetherness!

By selecting a walking tour provider that scouts out every detail in advance, you'll be miles ahead when it comes to family harmony. The ideal family walking holiday takes into account the curiosity, energy levels and attention spans of daydreamers and whirling dervishes alike. While it's important to confirm that a company's walks are suitable for shorter legs in terms of duration, distance and terrain, it's also helpful to know if the company complements time on the road with kid-oriented activities specific to each destination. A trip that mixes walking with local color, from making frescoes with the same mud used by ancient Greeks to mountain biking on the medieval walls of an Italian city, will make your journey just that much more awesome.

Overall group size is key to everyone's enjoyment. Being surrounded by too many guests can feel like you're being herded around and virtually rule out spontaneous stops along the way. Groups of 20 or fewer are ideal, generally allowing three or four families to travel together with plenty of opportunity for kids to make new friends. Don't hesitate to ask about the families already signed up for a particular walking trip; even if the ages of the kids aren't an exact match for your own, the shared experience of travel has a marvelous way of bringing kids together who wouldn't normally seek each other out at home.

Whatever the destination, the best family walking adventures are made-to-order for multi-generational bonding. It's amazing how quickly kids and parents reconnect - and kids and grandparents find interests in common they'd never imagined - when introduced to a totally new environment. For some, the magic moment may be gazing upward together, spellbound, at a troupe of rainforest sloths swooping from branch to branch in a treetop ballet. For others, it might be standing side by side peering into the crater of a legendary volcano near the Amalfi Coast, or venturing out hand-in-hand onto a massive glacier in the Canadian Rockies. It's really all about the "wow factor" when family members of all ages find they're actually on the same wavelength when it comes to seeing the world.

The savviest tour providers know the value of balancing family and adults-only pursuits, giving grown-ups the space and time to relax and revel in longer walks, wine tastings and gourmet cuisine while the kids go their own way under the watchful eye of trusted guides. If you're seeking a family vacation in the Great Outdoors where experts take care of the logistics from start to finish and unforgettable memories await at every turn, an easy-going family walking adventure is one solution that's tough to beat.

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